European Youth Debate on Religion and Democracy in Europe

Invited by the European Youth Forum (YFJ, www.youthforum.org), Vice Chair Daniel Bloemers participated in a meeting on the issue of religion in the public sphere in Europe as a common representative of EEE-YFU (European Educational Exchanges – Youth For Understanding, www.eee-yfu.org) and INES. The debate was carried out by YFJ and the Network of European Foundations (NEF, www.nefic.org) in Brussels on May 16th. It sought to gather perspectives of young people and youth organizations on the place of religion in society and politics, bringing together 15 participants from national youth councils and international youth non governmental organizations.

During three sessions of discussions the participants collected perceptions, ideas and best practices on three core issues:

1) Taking secularism seriously;

2) The challenge of incorporating Islam into European societies;

3) The role of media and education in shaping the perception of religion.

The results were anonymously documented and will serve, at the now following stage of the initiative, as a base for a debate of politicians on the issues. The central event of the initiative will then be a conference of selected participants of all the groups involved (journalists, youth organizations, politicians) to be carried out in Jerusalem in September 2007.

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